LABEL FOCUS: NEW STANDARD ELITE, KAOTOXIN, BLAST HEAD, DARK DESCENT, COMATOSE,
(Our old friend and stalwart NCS supporter Vonlughlio is passionate about metal, he happens to like physical copies of the metal he favors, and he lives in The Dominican Republic — which means he mostly has to order what he wants, and that isn’t always easy. In this guest post he singles out the labels that mean the most to him. We encourage you to do the same in the Comments.)
I decided to write about my favorite labels in metal after a discussion with a friend in which he stated the following: “I don’t buy from the labels because they don’t give the money to the artist or treat them with respect”. Sure, there is some truth to that in the case of certain labels, but there are labels out there who represent the opposite of this statement. Plus my friend could usually still buy direct from the band if needed, but that is another discussion for another time.
So to counteract this negativity about labels, I’m going to list my favorite ones. The list doesn’t include the largest labels, since they tend to specialize in different genres from my favorites. This is also my way of rendering tribute to those I’m listing for their hard work.
• New Standard Elite (NSE) (United States)
I’ve been following them since the end of 2012. They concentrate on releasing Brutal Death Metal, with the clear vision of the owner Mr. Obsorn of what that genre should be. Some of their 2013 releases, including Laceration, Seminal Embalmment, Abhorration, and Asphyxiate made it to my year-end list.
This year has been huge for them, with amazing releases from Abhorrent Castigation, Cerebral Effusion, Gorgasm, Euphegenia, and Disentomb (due out October 13). I would add that I have ordered many times from them and never had any problems with my orders. They also treat their artists and the fans with a lot of respect.
• Kaotoxin Records (France)
Kaotoxin is run by the one and only Daddy Nico (yeah I call him that). I found out about this label in late 2012 as well. The first band that I listened to from their roster was Ad Patres, and holy shit!!!! I instantly liked them. That led me to check out the rest of the bands on the label’s Bandcamp page. There I discovered one of my favorite doom metal bands, Eye of Solitude; their last album Canto III made the number 3 spot on my 2013 year-end list.
But one of the things I like about Kaotoxin is the diversity of genres represented by the bands on their rooster — it ranges from Death, to Black/Death, to Grind, and even deathcore. Another reason to like Kaotoxin is the way in which Daddy Nico dedicates himself to promoting the bands.
So far, 2014 has been a great year for them, with the release of albums by We all Die (laughing), Deep in Hate, Drawers, Colosus, and the long-awaited album from Sidious.
• Blast Head Records (Canada)
I discovered this one, run by Mr. Shaw, last year by browsing Bandcamp and discovering Ade (Death Metal from Italy), whose 2013 album also made it to my list. This is another label that has a lot of diversity in its roster, including Death, Black/Death, and Grind. The dedication Mr. Shaw devotes to the releases and the attention he gives fans is for me one of the highlights of Blast Head, and I have never had any issues with my orders. 2014 has also been also a great year for them, with releases of sophomore albums by Human Infection and Hate Division, as well as albums by Valdrin and Doperunner.
• Dark Descent Records (United States)
I’ve been following Dark Descent for quite a while, and to be honest, what can I say about them that hasn’t been said by others already? Well, I must say that the owner Matt is doing a great job in running this label, having selected really killer bands such as Krypts, Lantern, Desolate Shrine, Maveth, Imprecation, Binah, and many more.
As in the case of the other labels featured here, 2014 has been really huge for this one, too, with releases from Lvcifire, Corpsessed, Gravehill, Emptiness, Thantifaxath, and upcoming releases from Horrendus and Swallowed. One aspect I of the business I especially appreciate is the packaging for the orders — I have never received any CD with a crack in it, and that is a plus.
• Comatose Music (United States)
I’ve also been following this label (run by Mr. Green) for a while, and I must again say that I have never had any issues with the orders and they have arrived rather quickly. This is home to two of my favorite Italian bands, Antropofagus and Devangelic. The label also sponsors a tour in the United States with some of the bands in its rooster, and from what I’ve seen and heard, the man sure does know how to treat the bands with respect.
2014 has been another great year for Comatose, releasing Devangelic’s debut album Resurrection Denied” (one of the year’s best BDM albums) as well as great albums by Aborted Fetus and Down from the Wound.
As I wrote at the outset, the motivation for this post was to recognize some of the many metal labels who I know treat their artists and their fans with respect and who provide great service to customers. In the case two of the labels, I had just one issue with one order and they resolved it with due diligence, which is something you don’t see every day.
Yes, there are other labels with great rosters from whom I have ordered and never had a problem — I’ll mention Nuclear War Now and Hells Headbangers — but the ones listed above are my top choices.
Though I’m not a huge fan of most of the bands on the label, I really like A389 as a label, and the sincere way they go about their business. Also, they had to goof sense to sign Noisem. Related: LISTEN TO NEW NOISEM, YOU FOOLS: https://a389recordings.bandcamp.com/album/a389-147-noisem-consumed-7
Also, Metal Blade holds a special place in my heart, since a lot of the bands on their roster are the ones that got me into extreme metal. Can’t say I’ve ever ordered from them directly (I don’t think you can, pretty sure they go through Indiemerch, with which I have a complicated love-hate relationship).
Ordering online from where I live (Mexico) is really expensive so I can’t give an opinion about the ordering and customer service, but I think that in this list of amazing rosters Sevared, Unique Leader, Willowtip, Amputated Vein and Chaos Records have an amazing group of not so popular bands to check out.
There is a difference. You could equate the bigger labels to bookstores in general. The bigger established labels seem to have become the Barnes & Nobles and Walmarts, serving everything from cheap lack lustre hogwash to books with glossy steel embossed yet sandwiched tripe. But these smaller labels remind you of those smaller stores that serve a very limited number of books entirely dictated by the vision and taste of the usually single label owner. I could say that about A389, Profound Lore, the Polish Selfmadegod, Northern Silence, the absolutely killer Dark Descent sublabel Unspeakable Axe records, which has some killer thrash releases this year.
And thanks Vonlughlio for bringing this up.
Yeah I get what you saying and those labels you mentioned are great and have ordered from them withouth any issues as well. This is just my way of praying tribute if you could call it 🙂